A day and a half after the arrest of a man accused of kidnapping and murdering Sierra LaMar, both authorities and volunteers are continuing their searches for her.
The Santa Clara Sheriff's Office is looking for her body. The volunteers, who also have been scouring the southern portion of the county, are holding out hope they might find the 15-year-old Morgan Hill-area teen alive.
"My hope is that she is still alive, that he just has her somewhere," Karah Silacci, a 38-year-old Gilroy resident who has volunteered in the search effort since its inception, said Tuesday as she was gearing up to participate in Wednesday's search. "If she's not, we still have to bring her home."
Sheriff's divers Wednesday were scheduled to probe the Uvas Reservoir, 10 miles southwest of the unincorporated neighborhood off Palm and Dougherty avenues where Sierra vanished March 16. Sgt. Jose Cardoza said that will extend to other area waterways throughout the week.
The KlaasKids Foundation, which since the disappearance has spearheaded a civilian volunteer search based at Burnett Elementary School in Morgan Hill, also planned to search the area Wednesday.
The group canceled a search scheduled for Saturday, partly at the behest of Sierra's mother Marlene, who said in a statement she wants volunteers to spend the Memorial Day weekend with their families. Searches will resume May 30 and June 2, if Sierra has not been found earlier.
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Investigators also say they found the suspect's DNA on a Juicy Couture-brand bag belonging to the teen that was recovered a short time after she was reported missing.
Cardoza acknowledged that the arrest casts a pall on the belief by family and search volunteers that the teen might be alive, but said the Sheriff's Office is bound by the results of the investigation.
"We respect the family's opinion, and the searchers' opinion," Cardoza said. "The detectives know this case and they're basing their opinion on the work they've been doing. Garcia-Torres is responsible for the kidnapping and murder."
That is not enough to dissuade neither the LaMar family nor Silacci, who insist on remaining optimistic given that Sierra is still out there.
"Until we bring Sierra home, we'll be doing everything we can," Silacci said. "If it was our daughter, we'd want the same."
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.